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BEEF'S COW CALF WEEKLY    June 22, 2006  |  A PENTON MEDIA PUBLICATION
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    Table Of Contents
> Remember That Food Safety Equals Trust
> Farm Bill -- Let The Fun Begin
> AMI, FMI Make Waves With COOL Preparations
> Do You Need An Animal Welfare Strategy?
> Anaplasmosis Vaccine Available In California
> Badger Culling Ineffective In TB Control, UK Finds
> COOL Preparation Generates Controversy
> Cactus Feeders & Tyson Team Up In Argentina
> Cattlemen Reeling From Governor's Veto
> Correction To Last Week's Across-Breed EPDs Piece
> Early Pregnancy Diagnosis Important In Drought
> Energy Tax Package Includes Cellulosic Subsidy
> Expansion Of Biodiesel
> Extension Of Current Commodities Programs
> FSA County Committee Nominations
> Gasoline Prices Down For The Week, Diesel Is Higher
> Hereford Young Guns Registration Opens
> In North Dakota, 78-Month Drought Ends
> Some Thoughts On Choosing A Bale Wrap
> Noble Foundation Plans June 28 Estate Seminar
> Kansas Beef Conference Set

    Our Perspective
      Remember That Food Safety Equals Trust

The industry's record from a scientific viewpoint regarding food safety has been amazing. Probably nothing illustrates that more clearly than the recent meat recalls for E. coli. It was almost surprising to hear about a problem, yet it wasn't that many years ago when we were suffering through what was called "the summer of E. coli."

BSE is another example where the industry has done an amazing job of preventing a major problem. However, the best way to gauge consumer perceptions of food safety is to have them evaluate their impression of the integrity of the industry, and its direct suppliers.

Still, we find ourselves yet again having an improper and illegal shipment of beef being sent to South Korea. In Japan one of its own companies, Meat Hope, has created a huge controversy by putting pork into a key beef product, because beef supplies had gotten tight.

Sure, everyone intuitively understands just how important food safety is to our ability to be able to market our product but, as is always the case when each individual action is so very miniscule and results are based on the aggregate, it's easy for individuals to take a short cut here and there. Every bobble along the way reduces our credibility.

It's well understood that food safety is something that can never be fully achieved, but our future lies in our customers trusting us to do everything possible to ensure their safety. That rests on their belief that we will continue to act with the utmost integrity. We can't afford too many weeks like the last several. Our industry rests on the foundation of consumer confidence.
-- Troy Marshall



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      Farm Bill -- Let The Fun Begin

The House released its mockups of the new farm bill last week. These are intended as a starting point for the upcoming debate. Not surprising, there was very little revolutionary in the new bill, much to the consternation of both the proponents and opponents of American ag.

The real change this time around is the number of non-ag groups involved in the farm bill. From animal welfare to environmental groups to consumer advocate groups, they're all trying to enact parts of their agenda through the upcoming farm bill. There also is pressure from fiscal conservatives, free-market advocates and from the social liberals who want more government dollars directed toward other activities. Of course, there's the renewable energy issue, as well.

There are few signs of any substantive change compared to the last farm bill, except that significantly fewer dollars are available this time around. Thus, priorities will be a key. The beef industry will have to be much more vocal to be effective in the formation of the upcoming farm bill.

Yes, the beef industry is still very much a peripheral audience as we historically don't receive direct subsidy payments, but there will be the typical array of measures relative to marketing and competition.
-- Troy Marshall

      AMI, FMI Make Waves With COOL Preparations

The run-up to the scheduled implementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) has drawn a bit more heated rhetoric recently. Two weeks ago, the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute sent letters detailing the verifiable auditable paper trails, indemnification of liability and the like that they will be demanding from suppliers. While this is nothing new, it sparked some reaction because people are beginning to realize that the implementation date is just around the corner -- September 2008.
Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall



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      Do You Need An Animal Welfare Strategy?

The animal welfare issue is only going to get bigger in the minds of the consumers. When the Humane Society of the U.S. begins to get additional financing from Microsoft that should be a red flag.

The whole organic, natural, health aspect of the food-marketing environment is growing at a mind-boggling rate. In fact, our college intern this spring wouldn't drink anything but organic juice. My eight-year-old child asked me recently whether natural and organic foods are healthier than 'typical' foods.

With mandatory COOL around the corner, everyone might as well source and age verify their cattle to reap some of the benefits and to offset costs. Beef Quality Assurance is likely just the opening stanza in what promises to be a whole movement on the animal welfare front as well. It probably makes sense to begin the documentation so one can verify their management as well.
-- Troy Marshall

   
      Anaplasmosis Vaccine Available In California

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced that killed anaplasmosis vaccine is again available to California cattle producers.

The California Cattlemen's Association sent an official request to the CDFA offering its assistance in overcoming state and federal licensing requirements that made the vaccine unavailable. Follow-up calls to state and federal officials led to an agreement that made the experimental vaccine available to producers.

Anaplasmosis is a blood disease that causes severe anemia and death in cattle. The disease is transmitted by ticks; the mild and moist winter of 2006 resulted in an increase in tick populations in California and a resulting increase in the number of anaplasmosis cases.

For info on obtaining the vaccine, contact the California Cattlemen's Association at 916-444-0845 or log on to www.calcattlemen.org.
-- Burt Rutherford



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      Badger Culling Ineffective In TB Control, UK Finds

Five years and 11,000 badgers later, a British study group has determined that killing badgers isn't an effective recipe for stemming bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Great Britain.

The team of scientists from Britain's top universities concluded that although badgers contribute to cattle TB, only 14 new cases of TB were prevented in herds, despite five years of culling that removed about 73% of the badgers in a 1,000-sq.-km area. The study group advised that substantial reductions in TB can be achieved by improving cattle-based control measures, such as controlling and monitoring cattle movements, strategic testing, quarantine of purchased cattle, and whole-herd depopulation of chronically affected herds, among other measures.

Trevor Lawson, spokesperson for the Badger Trust, likened killing badgers to "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut." A less brutish approach to the small role played by badgers in TB transmission is to utilize electric fencing around farm buildings, which might well yield greater benefits at a fraction of the cost, he says.
- www.stackyard.com

      COOL Preparation Generates Controversy

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), a national organization representing retailers, sent a letter recently to seven ag groups detailing the steps it is suggesting to retailers that they adopt regarding country-of-origin-related info from meat suppliers. The letter was sent in response to efforts throughout the food-marketing chain to prepare for implementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) beginning Sept. 30, 2008. Under the COOL legislation passed as part of the 2002 farm bill, retailers are required to provide COOL information for specified beef, pork and lamb products.

FMI suggests retailers require information from their suppliers in four areas -- signage, records, audits and indemnification. FMI recommends that suppliers provide the signage, in the form of stickers or placards, with the verified origin information for the product. It also recommends suppliers provide records proving origin with each shipment, and says that retailers should require the results of all COOL-related audits. It also proposes that retailers require indemnification from suppliers for any fines and any other costs, including attorney's fees, that the retailer may incur as a result of the country-of-origin info the supplier provides or fails to provide.

The FMI letter was sent to the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute (AMI), National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Farmers Union, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council and R-CALF.

Following FMI's letter, AMI, an organization representing packers, sent a similar letter to 97 producer groups detailing what it is telling its members about how they will need to comply with the impending law and satisfy retail customers. AMI said packers should demand verified documentation of where the livestock purchased were born and raised and an affidavit or declaration with each load of livestock purchases stating that there is a verifiable audit trail in place that identifies where the livestock in each load were born and raised. AMI also advised its members to ask producers to provide access to records so the packer can perform audits as necessary to satisfy retail customers and to indemnify the packer for liability should inaccurate information be provided to the packer.

R-CALF reacted angrily to AMI's letter, demanding AMI rescind its suggestions and threatening to file complaints with USDA's Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) against AMI and any packer that follows AMI's recommendations. However, AMI said it stands by its guidance to meat packers.

"Given the fact that animals born now will be subject to mandatory COOL, we thought it was wise to begin preparing," said Mark Dopp, AMI senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel. "We stand by our letter and we will not rescind it because there is no reason to do so. Complex new obligations will be imposed upon us and if we are to comply, we need information from producers. Those who support the law can't avoid their obligations to provide us with information we need to comply."
-- Burt Rutherford



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      Cactus Feeders & Tyson Team Up In Argentina

Cactus Argentina has all the look and feel of a Texas Panhandle feedyard. After all, Cactus Feeders of Amarillo, TX, has worked since 1999 to introduce Texas-style grain finishing to South America.
Click here to read more of this story by Clint Peck

      Cattlemen Reeling From Governor's Veto

"Shocked" is how the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) reacted to Gov. Rick Perry's veto of H.B. 2006, a bill designed to protect private landowners from condemnation of land by eminent domain.

Reportedly, the veto resulted from an amendment added to the bill that would have required the special commissioners in a condemnation case to consider loss of access when determining compensation for the landowners. However, according to TSCRA, the amendment applied only to state highway projects. It would not have affected county or city road projects.

During the legislative session, the Texas Department of Transportation argued the amendment would result in up to $1 billion in additional costs, but TSCRA says the agency offered no data to support the claim. Prior to a 1993 decision by the Texas Supreme Court, landowners were compensated for diminished access, says Ed Small, TSCRA legal counsel. "The state treasury didn't go bankrupt prior to 1993 because of this and it wouldn't go bankrupt if this bill were to become law."

"We're extremely disappointed that in this state, it is apparently acceptable for the government to take people's property without paying them for their damage," says TSCRA President Jon Means.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Correction To Last Week's Across-Breed EPDs Piece

The June 15 article, "MARC Releases 2007 Across-Breed EPD Calculations," had a mistake in the example listed in the fourth paragraph. You can read the entire corrected article at: beef-mag.com/cowcalfweekly/marc-releases-across-breed/index.html, but the article should have read:

"For example, suppose a Simmental bull has a weaning weight EPD of + 25 lbs. (which is slightly below the average of 32.9 lbs. for Simmental cattle born in 2005) and a Gelbvieh bull has a weaning weight EPD of +45 lbs. (which is slightly above the average of 41 lbs. for Gelbvieh cattle born in 2005). The across-breed adjustment factors for weaning weight (see table) are 24.4 lbs. for Simmental and 7 lbs. for Gelbvieh. The AB-EPD is 25 lbs. + 24.4 lbs. = 49.4 lbs. for the Simmental bull and 45 lbs. + 7 lbs. = 52 lbs. for the Gelbvieh bull. The expected weaning weight difference when both are mated to cows of another breed (e.g., Angus) would be 49.4 lbs - 52 lbs. = -2.6 lbs."

For more info on the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center's across-breed EPDs, contact Larry Kuehn at 402-762-4352 or larry.kuehn@ars.usda.gov, or Mark Thallman at 402-762-4261 or mark.thallman@ars.usda.gov.
-- Joe Roybal



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      Early Pregnancy Diagnosis Important In Drought

An important drought-management strategy is early pregnancy diagnosis, says John B. Hall, Virginia Tech Extension beef cattle specialist. Within 30-45 days of the end of the breeding season, veterinarians can diagnose pregnancy in the herd. In fact, veterinarians skilled in the use of ultrasound can diagnose pregnancies as early as 25-28 days post breeding.

Identifying and culling non-pregnant females in midsummer rather than fall will reduce the overall feed requirements of the herd, Hall says. This reduces pressure on pastures and improves pasture quality and reserves feed for the most productive cows.

The cost of pregnancy diagnosis varies according to the veterinarian, distance to the farm, and the number of cattle to be checked, but usually the cost is $3-$12/cow, with ultrasound diagnosis being the most expensive. Combining pregnancy diagnosis with mid-summer cattle working can spread the cost of a farm call over more head, thus reducing the cost per animal.
-- Ohio State University Beef Cattle Letter

      Energy Tax Package Includes Cellulosic Subsidy

The Senate Finance Committee unveiled a package of energy tax incentives to promote the development of clean and green power, alternative vehicles and biofuels, and the responsible use of coal. The key biofuels provisions include:

Establishes a new tax credit for the production of cellulosic ethanol, offering $1.11/gal. for the first 60 million gals./year of production and up to 1 billion gals. for the duration of the incentive.
  • Extends through 2010 the $1/gal. biodiesel credit (produced from soy, camelina, and other plant materials) with no limit for a single facility's production.

  • Extends through 2010 the $1/gal. renewable diesel (which may include materials such as chicken fat) credit, up to 60 million gals.

  • Extends through 2012 the 30 % credit (up to $30,000) for installing E-85 alternative energy fueling stations that can service flex-fuel cars running on 85% ethanol fuel.

  • Extends through 2012 the small producers credit (those with annual capacity of 60-million gals. or less) for biodiesel and ethanol, which provides a 10¢/gal. credit on the first 15 million gals. of production.

  • Extends the tariff on imported ethanol through Dec. 31, 2010.

  • Modifies the ethanol tax credit. The proposal would reduce the 51¢/gal. tax credit for ethanol by 5¢ beginning the first calendar year after the year in which 7.5 billion gals. of ethanol (including cellulosic ethanol) has been produced.
The Senate is voting on this bill and a number of amendments this week. More details next week.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Expansion Of Biodiesel

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation to increase the production of biodiesel to 1.25 billion gals. in 2012. Durbin said, "Biodiesel is a fuel that holds great promise in terms of moving our country toward energy independence. While in its infancy, the biodiesel industry has seen tremendous growth due to the high cost of oil. This bill will create incentives for producers and consumers alike and will allow this important alternative fuel source the chance to become a mainstream alternative to foreign oil." The bill creates the following biodiesel fuel standards.
  • Minimum percentage: Included in the requirement is a minimum amount reserved for biodiesel, where at least 80% of the mandate will be biodiesel.

  • EPA registration: In order to be introduced into commerce, all fuel -- either "biodiesel" or "bio-based diesel replacement" fuel -- is required to be registered through EPA pursuant to the Clean Air Act, and must have an appropriate ASTM standard.

  • After 2012: The administrator of EPA, in consultation with the secretaries of Agriculture and Energy will determine the appropriate amount in 2013 and each year thereafter.

  • Waiver authority: The administrator of EPA, in consultation with the secretaries of Agriculture and Energy, would have the ability to waive the standard in cases of market disruptions.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Extension Of Current Commodities Programs

During consideration of the commodities title of the farm bill, the House Ag General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee voted this week to extend the current commodities programs.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Ag Committee said, "The proposals approved today by the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management reflect the message we heard loud and clear from farmers and ranchers nationwide -- the structure of the 2002 Farm Bill works for them. We will continue to develop proposals on rebalancing and reform in farm programs that will build on this good foundation as we move forward. The Agriculture Committee has a tough job ahead, but I am committed to continuing a process that is open and allows for a complete debate of all the important issues involved in writing a farm bill."

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said, "I am disappointed in the Title I legislation put forth today by the House Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. The bill fails to recognize the need for greater equity and predictability in farm policy, and does nothing to provide a more responsive safety net. Having said that, I am encouraged by the signal from subcommittee members that this is only a starting point and I'm gratified by the kind and thoughtful comments offered by several members regarding the Administration's proposal. I will not waste a moment in responding to the interest expressed in adopting some of our ideas as part of the full committee mark up."

We can expect modifications to the subcommittee's proposal when the full House Agriculture Committee takes up the farm bill after the July 4th Congressional recess.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      FSA County Committee Nominations

USDA announced nominations for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees will continue through Aug. 1. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at: www.fsa.usda.gov; click on News & Events, then County Committee Elections. Nomination forms for the 2007 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Gasoline Prices Down For The Week, Diesel Is Higher

For the fourth consecutive week, the U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline decreased, falling 6.7¢ to $3.009/gal., as of June 18. Prices are 13.8¢ higher than this time last year. Meanwhile, retail diesel rose this week, climbing 1.3¢ to $2.805/gal., or 11¢ lower than at this time last year.

All regions reported price decreases for gasoline, with the largest regional decrease in the Midwest, where prices fell 8.9¢ to $2.984. East Coast prices fell 4.6¢ to $2.976, while the Gulf Coast decreased 5.9¢ to $2.903, and the Rocky Mountain region fell 4.4¢ to $3.181 -- 33.8¢/gal. above last year's price. West Coast prices were down 7.7¢ to $3.188, and the average price for regular grade in California was down 8.4¢ to $3.236.

For diesel, East Coast prices were up 1.1¢ to $2.80, while the Midwest rose by 2.1¢ to $2.774, and the Gulf Coast inched up 1.1¢ to $2.753. The Rocky Mountain region fell 3¢ to $2.907, and the West Coast rose 1.7¢ to $2.958. The California prices were up 3.6¢ to $3.033, which is 15.2¢ lower than at this time last year.
-- Energy Information Administration

      Hereford Young Guns Registration Opens

Registration is open for the third Hereford Young Guns Conference, Aug. 22-24, at Harrah's North Kansas City Hotel and Casino. Register online at www.herefordyoungguns.com. Designed for producers ages 22-45, the conference is a great venue for producers to network, socialize and learn from each other, says Craig Huffines, American Hereford Association executive vice president. Look for more info at www.herefordyoungguns.com.
-- American Hereford Association release

      In North Dakota, 78-Month Drought Ends

Consistent rainfall throughout North Dakota has broken a 78-month drought that began at the end of 2000 in North Dakota and continued until mid-June 2007, says state climatologist Adnan Akyuz. The most severe drought occurred during the third week of July 2006, when 100% of the state was experiencing at least moderate drought status on the drought monitor scale, says the North Dakota State University assistant professor of climatology.

This year, North Dakota experienced its 10th wettest spring and sixth wettest May since climatic recordkeeping began in 1895. In fact, since Jan. 1, 2007, Fargo has received 13.99 in. of precipitation, which is 5.98 in. above normal.
-- NDSU news release

      Some Thoughts On Choosing A Bale Wrap

Three factors are important in choosing a bale wrap -- be it sisal, plastic twine, net-wrap or tube-wrap -- says Kevin Shinners, University of Wisconsin ag engineer.
Click here to read more of this story by Alaina Burt

    Industry Events
      Noble Foundation Plans June 28 Estate Seminar

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation's Ag Division hosts its annual Estate Planning Seminar on June 28 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) at the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center in Ardmore. The seminar is designed to help ranchers and farmers learn the best techniques to manage the various assets that make up their estates, including real estate, livestock, machinery and cash investments. The seminar is $10, which includes lunch. Call 580-224-6501 or visit www.noble.org/agevents for more info.
-- Noble Foundation release

      Kansas Beef Conference Set

Kansas State University will host its first-ever conference on adding value to calves this August. The two-day conference, Aug. 9-10 in Manhattan, includes presentations on how beef producers can become more efficient and get the most profit from their business. Registration is $150 and is due by Aug. 3. For more info, visit www.asi.ksu.edu/beefconference or call 785-532-1281.
-- KSU release



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